Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 10 May 2023:
Isaiah 2:6, 7 — They strike hands with the children of foreigners. Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots.
Prosperity in no way guarantees security. Security is in the hands of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:10 — Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty.
We are not “saved” from merely the negative consequences of sin on earth. We are saved from the wrath of Almighty God. The most terrible thing about sin is NOT the earthly consequences we face but rather the fact that we have offended and defamed the Sovereign, Holy God. The Bible uses repetition to add emphasis to a word, much like we use and exclamation point. For example, when Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say….” throughout the Book of John, He is placing great emphasis on these truth statements – really pay attention. There are only two words in the New Testament repeated three times for highest emphasis: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8) “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!” (Revelation 8:13) God’s holiness is not something to be taken lightly.
1 Corinthians 5:1, 2 – It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
To tolerate or make light of sexual sin, something God abhors and has strictly forbidden, is the very highest form of arrogance.
1 Corinthians 5:1-3 – It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.
Paul was surprised by sexual immorality within the church and expected that there would be great grief and shame.
1 Corinthians 5:3, 12 — I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing…. Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
Paul judged the behavior of other Christians and expected judgement to occur within the church. This is not the form of judgment that Jesus condemned, which judgment with spite. This was a judgment that challenged the behavior in hopes that the sinner would repent and be brought to reconciliation with God and with others.
1 Corinthians 5:8 – Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
We must worship God in “truth” by obeying His commands.
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 — But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
These verses seem pretty clear. “Is it not those inside the church who you are to judge?”
One of the reasons the Church in America has lost much of its influence is because it has lost much of its integrity. While Christians are to expect (not approve of or condone) sin from unbelievers, Christians are not to tolerate unrepentant sin from those who call themselves believers and claim to be Christ’s ambassadors. We are not even to associate with unrepentant Christians.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14) “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8) “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4) What is the church proclaiming to the world about the power of Christ when so called “carnal Christians” live much the same way the unbelieving world does? Does a worldly church bring honor and glory to our Savior? “The thing that you are doing is not good. Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God to prevent the taunts of the nations our enemies?” (Nehemiah 5:9)
The Bible offers clear guidance for the appropriate way to administer church admonishment and discipline, but it is practiced very, very rarely. The church today is very confused about how to respond to sin, hence the deafening silence from the within the social discourse on matters related to immorality and injustice. As a result of our confusion and syncretism, the church has largely lost its holiness, its power, and its witness. The problems we have in society reflect a church whose “light” has dimmed and whose “salt” has lost its saltiness. The incredible loss of power did not occur over night but rather occurred over decades as the church allowed sin to creep in as an erosion rather than an explosion. As Paul explains today, our response to sin within the church, with those who bear the name of Christ, is to be far different than our response to unbelievers who, by virtue of their unbelief, are trapped in sin. Today, not only does much of the church ignore internal sin, it is now starting to legitimize it.
We desperately need revival and renewal within the church. Jesus began his public ministry, not with the population of unbelievers but rather to the “lost sheep” among those called “God’s people,” and His message was “Repent.” He called the believers to return to God’s authority as KING. Yes, Jesus ate (in intimate fellowship) with the “tax collectors,” but a close examination of those verses reveals that these were tax collectors who had repented, who were eager the bear the fruit of repentance (Luke 3:8), and who were ready and willing to make restitution for the sins that they had committed. Having repented, now they needed discipleship – “teach them to obey all that I have commanded.”
Review the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).” Many churches today are preaching to “all nations,” and baptizing, but they are not discipling – “teaching them to observe all that [God] has commanded.” Many within the church are lamenting over the state of our nation, but we need to be lamenting over the state of the church. How does your church deal with sin from within the congregation? How well does your church disciple to obedience?
– Galatians 6:1 — Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
– Matthew 18:15-20 — If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
– Titus 3:9-11 — But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:6 — Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
– 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15 — As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
– Romans 16:17-18 — I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
– James 5:19-20 — My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
– 2 John 1:9-11 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
– 1 Timothy 5:19-20 — Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
– 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 — It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord….
– Titus 2:15 — Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you. “Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 May 2023: Today, pray for revival in the church – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)